When I was a junior in high school, I wanted to be James Shotwell. Today, I think the only person who would find that more hilarious that James himself would be our late friend Justin, a person I would have never known if not for James and if not for the website he built and invited me to be a part of for so many years. So much of me has come as a result of those two things.
Being a sheltered 17 year old from northeastern Ohio, I wasn't accustomed to the show-going experience or anything even close to resembling that. So I faked it. Somehow, trying to do what James was doing with his laptop and venue access with merely my blackberry and an it-leaked account caught his attention. Before long, I went from copying the guy to partnering with him to run Under The Gun Review.
What has happened since has been well documented but, in short, I left UTG after we sold it to SPIN Group (née Buzznet, Buzzmedia, and SPIN Media) while James stayed on—cultivating a brand and an elite team of alternative music and film critics. Now James is stepping down as Editor In Chief, pulling back and refocusing on the other things he's dedicated his life to.
In his letter to the patrons and staff of Under The Gun yesterday, James wrote, "For many years I have been afraid of who I was without UTG." While I think many creatives invested in a brand identity or outlet can relate, I think it's important to distinguish the difference between what James is without UTG and what UTG is without James.
James without Under The Gun is still a driven individual with a distinct eye for talent and panache for writing about it. Those skills have brought him work outside of his blog at Haulix and Antique Records, his label. He is also a caring friend, confidant, mentor, and advisor to countless individuals who have crossed his path in the 7 years since registering underthegunreview.net. Without UTG as his main focus, James fear of irrelevancy is superfluous.
Brian Lion has taken James' spot as EIC, an appointment deserved by nobody else. Since my time at UTG, Brian has effectively run editorial without guidance. The question of Under The Gun's existence without James' focus is answered by Brian's clear knack for editorial and the team's flair for distinctive criticism.
Deciding when to move on from a project is a difficult one. I think the best time is when both entities, the project and the creative, can stand on their own. For James, that time is now. As my long time friend and valued colleague, I wish him the best of luck in this departure from routine. Refraining from a half dozen news posts every day will be a bigger struggle than he may have yet realized.
Read James' full letter on Under The Gun Review.
I am a patron of Under The Gun Review and I implore you to consider patronage as well. Great blogs like this can only exist with help and, since SPIN didn't work out for anyone, Patreon is a great option. Even the smallest monthly contribution can go a long way.
Be sure to follow Under The Gun on Twitter and Facebook as well. They lost 35,000 Facebook followers when the social network decided that linking to an article on their site with a YouTube embed was considered "piracy" and deleted their brand page without the option to protest.